Reduce Staff Turnover by Putting the Time into Onboarding

With unemployment levels falling, the need for companies to keep its top talent is intensifying. Reports suggest that the most important thing on the minds of CEOs today is employee retention. However, organisations usually spend very little time onboarding their new employees. Up to 20% of staff turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment. It is clear that a standardised onboarding process is vital. The most effective organisations seem to onboard their new recruits throughout the whole of their first year and place an emphasis on three key dimensions: organisational, technical and social. By using this approach, companies enable their employees to thrive and as a result stay.

Organisational Onboarding

Teach them how things work – The first part of onboarding involves teaching your new employees everything they need to know in order to function on a day to day basis. This includes the basics such as where to get an ID card, where to park, how to navigate the building etc. It is also important that you remember to teach them the ‘language’ of the company, meaning the cryptic acronyms that most companies use for key roles or processes. Having to try an decode them can be a huge point of stress for new hires.

Help them assimilate – Organisations need to be deliberate in helping new hired adapt to the values and norms of the organisation, particularly in their first year. At key milestones (such as three, six and nine months) managers need to formally engage these employees in conversations around the history of the organisation, how performance is both measured and rewarded and how opportunities for progression arise.

Technical Onboarding

Define what good actually looks like – Just because you hire someone for their particular skills and experiences, does not mean they are going to know how to apply them to your company. New hires who have a wealth of experience and expertise can become insecure when they feel like they are a beginner. As a result of this feeling they can sometimes resort to mentioning their past successes as a way to demonstrate their capability, this in turn can then alienate their new co-workers. In order to avoid situations like these, communicate with your new hire clearly right from the start. Provide them with a detailed job description which includes accountabilities and boundaries surrounding authority or available resources. It would also be beneficial to schedule weekly coaching sessions which would allow you to check in on your new recruit.

Set up early wins – Giving your new addition clear goals is another effective strategy as it will allow you to share realistic expectations. 60% of organisations state that they do not set short term goals for their new recruits. A good way to get this going is to assign your new hire tasks which are to be completed at the three, six and nine month marks. It is a good idea to start off with targets that you know your new recruit can meet. If this is all going to plan, you can then start to gradually increase the level of responsibility pertaining to each task. This will help you to build trust and your new hire can see that you do care and are paying attention. This also gives you the perfect opportunity to openly discuss gaps in their skill set and allows you to work together to close them.

Social Onboarding

Build a sense of community – Research has shown that 40% of adults feel lonely. This feeling of being isolated is magnified for new hires and can actually increase the probability of them leaving. Building relationships during the first year can help new employees feel less isolated and more confident. Building social capital with other employees on a day to day basis will help to build the levels of trust as well as comradery. When a new employee feels welcome and accepted, they are less likely to feel isolated and like a stranger.

Finally, it is extremely expensive to replace employees, so if you want to retain the employees you spent a lot of money finding, make sure you do whatever you can to make this new recruit’s year a positive productive one. Organisations who have a standardised onboarding process have approximately 62% greater productivity from the new hire as well as 50% greater retention of new hires. Organisations who invest time in their new employees see the benefits and ultimately save time and money in the long run.

Carucci, R (2018) To Retain New Hires, Spend More Time Onboarding Them [Online]

Mitchell et al. (2018) C-Suite Challenge 2018: Reinventing the Organization for the Digital Age. [Online]

Llarena, M (2013) How Not To Lose Your New Employees In Their First 45 Days [Online]


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